A wise, leather-and-lace-clad sage once said, “I’ve been afraid of changing ’cause I’ve built my life around you.” (Yes, that sage was Stevie Nicks. We love you, Stevie.)
And that’s exactly why it’s so hard to move on after a bad breakup, social scientist Gary Lewandowski says in the TED talk above. The relationships we’re in define us, sustain us and, yep, they can absolutely break us when they end, the Monmouth University professor says.
But a split doesn’t have to leave you permanently broken. In fact, Lewandowski’s research has shown that a breakup can oftentimes be a very good thing. In 2007, he and his team asked 155 undergraduates who had recently broken up and hadn’t rebounded to describe the breakup’s overall impact on them. A majority (41.3 percent) rated their breakup experience as positive, while 25.7 percent said it was neutral. Just 33 percent reported that the breakup was negative.
What did the happy-after-heartbreak people do differently? They found themselves, Lewandowski says. As he explains it, a lot of failed relationships involve one partner holding the other back. Breaking up can sometimes allow people to rediscover themselves and the activities that bring them happiness.
“They’re experiencing what I call the rediscovery of their self, which is recapturing the things you may have sacrificed or diminished while you were in a relationship,” he says. “When your relationship doesn’t help you become a better person, ending it does.”
In short, if you’re feeling particularly bad about the end of a relationship, get back out there and do the things you love: Hit the gym and endorphin it up OR Go play World of Warcraft into the wee small hours of the morning, if that’s more your thing. And if you’re still feeling down, remind yourself of what ewandowski says in the clip above: “Great relationships seldom fail, bad ones do as they should.”
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